Humans pride themselves on their logic and ability to reason, but this blessing is also a curse, as humans often find themselves hamstrung by their NEED for reasons. Whenever any event occurs, humans scramble to find the reason, as though knowing it somehow changes the outcome of events. When there is a tragedy, we seek to find the reason why. When the plan fails, we want to know the reason. When WE fail, we seek the reason. We do this because it’s comforting; if we can find the reason, then we can “fix” the problem and make sure it never happens again. However, there exists in reality a frustrating and frightening realization that many refuse to ever come to; sometimes, there is no reason.
See this guy gets it
The most prominent place I observe reason seeking is in the instance of injuries. First, allow me to rant (and even if you don’t, it’s my blog, I’ll do what I want); what the hell is up with people seeking out video compilations of trainees getting injured in the gym? Follow-up rant; what the hell is up with people deciding to change how they train BECAUSE of these videos? Riddle me this; how many times have you been driving and witnessed the result of a horrific wreck on the side of the road? Car upside-down, looking like a smashed in accordion, broken glass and possibly even blood on the asphalt? Now; did you change your driving at ALL after seeing that? Or are you still listening to the radio, on your phone, not coming to full stops at stopsigns, speeding, etc etc? This will kill you, and you change nothing, but a bicep tear video convinces you to stop using mixed grip and switch to double overhand exclusively? Really? Better safe than sorry I guess.
Anyway, back to injuries. I remember when Brandon Lilly blew out both of his knees squatting over 700lbs raw, and INSTANTLY the internet was abuzz with conspiracy theories regarding WHY it happened. Drugs, improper warm-ups, over reliance on wraps, too much volume, too LITTLE volume, etc etc. Why? Not for any sort of benevolence, not to actually find a way to HELP Lilly, but purely so that THEY (the internet hivemind collective) could convince themselves that this could NEVER happen to them. The sheer prospect that this injury happened without reason was terrifying, and it simply could not exist in the psyche of the trainee…but it’s something we need to cope with. Sometimes, you do everything “right” and your number still gets called and your time gets done. Your body does not LIKE squatting 700lbs; it actually HATES it, because it was not built for it, and sometimes, no matter how big or strong you got it, it just says “no” and quits. We need to understand that every time we set up for that big lift, it might be our last time doing it. And if we’re not at peace with that, that’s fine; it means that it’s time to hang it up.
The last guy who tried this broke his back in half and died...just for reference
We see reason seeking regarding programming as well. With all the latest and greatest scientific studies out there in the budding field of exercise science, we’re absolutely CONVINCED that anything related to training can be scientifically proven, and anything that CAN’T be proven clearly does not work. We conveniently ignore the reality that exercise science is a super new field of research, with limited funding compared to other more important scientific endeavors like curing cancer or going into outerspace or eliminating baldness, or making fat free potato chips that don’t cause colon leakage. We convince ourselves that we know the optimal amount of volume and frequency necessary to elicit the optimal amount of gains because we read it in a study (or, more realistically, the ABSTRACT of a study) somewhere, and so, when we see someone violate that, we seek the reason. People gaining on HIT? On DoggCrapp? On MountainDog? On Super Squats? On Stuart McRobert’s programs? On John McCallum’s programs? On Arnold’s 2 a day split? But they break ALL THE RULES! And the reasons are sought. Clearly it’s steroids; take enough drugs and you can make ANYTHING work. No wait, its genetics; with enough natural talent, you can make ANYTHING. No wait wait…they secretly snuck off away from their coach and did even MORE training. Yes, I have seen someone make that claim before.
Maybe there is just no reason? Maybe someone can still put on a massive amount of muscle even if their mitochondria isn’t optimally stimulated with exact 2:1 pulse timing. Maybe “volume” realistically can’t be calculated when someone is using a combination of stripsets, forced reps, and heavy eccentrics well past the point of absolute failure. Maybe these things work simply because they do, and that the reason is something either so incredibly complex we can’t fathom it or so incredibly simple we refuse to accept it. But realistically, WHY do we need to know WHAT the reason is so long as we understand that it DOES work? The more I embraced this, the better I became. I cared less that I understood why things worked and cared more about understanding what DOES work. Why do I drink a gallon of water a day? Because every single big and strong person has said to do this, despite every scientific claim that says you only need to drink while thirsty and overhydration is bunk. Why do I eat an “excessive” amount of protein? Because every big and strong person on the planet has said to do this, no matter what the science says on the subject. THAT is the reason. Appeal to authority? Sure. I’m not making a goddamn logical argument here; your fallacies are meaningless. I AM appealing to authority, because that’s the whole point of BEING an authority; your statements have gravity.
Being logical is cool and all, but so is being jacked and strong
Quit looking for the reason; you’re wasting your time, and finding it changes nothing. Reality continues to proceed irrespective of your understanding of it. Do what works and let someone else figure out why later.